01:33 PM EDT 12/23/2013
Originally posted 12/18/2012 04:00PM
The call came late on Friday night that Newtown, Conn., needed them.
Five specially trained golden retrievers and eight handlers arrived on Saturday to comfort those touched by tragedy, Vida Johnston, director of operations for Lutheran Church Charities's K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs of Addison, Ill., tells PEOPLE.
Since then, they've been on the ground wherever the community needs them. Dogs such as Shami, of Darien, Ill., and Bamabas, of Portage, Ind., are comforting children and adults with cuddles and nuzzles after making the trek to Connecticut. Another dog, Prince, also came from Portage, and Chloe, whose Facebook page says she's "ready to go to work to give a lot of love bright and early," made her way from La Fox, Ill.
Originally posted 12/18/2012 08:15AM
As students in Newtown returned to class Tuesday, James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos were laid to rest.
"Heaven gained an angel today," read a sign outside the funeral procession for Mattioli, 6, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings Friday.
As the vehicle carrying his casket arrived at the St. John's Cemetery in Darien, Conn., after the noon funeral service at Saint Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, onlookers wiped away tears as the entire community continued to cope with what amounts to unbearable grief.
Earlier in the day, for a 10 a.m. service, the casket for Rekos, also 6, was also carried into Saint Rose of Lima Church prior to her burial at St. Rose cemetery.
Originally posted 12/18/2012 02:30PM
Even as some sort of routine is being reestablished in Newtown, Conn., after the horrific events of Dec. 14, help for those directly involved is being offered from far and wide.
Counseling services are available through Friday, according to the Newtown Public School District website. Those in need can also call 211.
"We are grateful for all the prayers, thoughts and outpouring of support offered to our community during this difficult time," reads the school district's message.
Originally posted 12/18/2012 11:30AM
As divorces go, the one between Peter and Nancy Lanza appeared to be as amicable as possible under the circumstances, with agreement on generous alimony and custody.
But when the Lanzas finalized their split in 2009, they did have concerns about the care of their then-17-year-old son Adam, according to the pair's divorce mediator.
"The only two things I remember them saying is that she really didn't like to leave him alone and I know they went out of their way to accommodate him," their divorce mediator, Paula Levy, tells the Associated Press.
Originally posted 12/17/2012 03:20PM
Friends and family said goodbye on Monday to two of the 27 victims of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto, both 6, were the first laid to rest.
"Today is extremely emotional," Noah's aunt, Victoria Haller, tells PEOPLE. "My sister-in-law has been pretty much a wreck, which you can imagine. It's the worst thing in the world to lose a child."
Pozner, a loving boy who was inseparable from his siblings, had his services at Abraham L. Green and Son Funeral Home in Farfield, Conn., with his burial at B'nai Israel Cemetery in Monroe, Conn.
The entrance to the funeral home was adorned with white balloons. A large oak tree across from the home was covered with a sign that says, "Our hearts are with you Noah."
Originally posted 12/17/2012 07:20AM
At an interfaith memorial service in Newton, Conn., for those lost in Friday's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, an emotional President Obama told the grieving audience, "We can't tolerate this anymore," and vowed "in the coming weeks I'll use whatever power this office holds" in "preventing more tragedies like this."
As he told the 1,000 people, including the surviving families, as he spoke on the stark stage of Newtown High School Sunday night, the President said, "I can only hope it helps for you to know that you're not alone. … Across this land of ours, we have wept with you."
And he pledged, "These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change."
Noting this was the fourth time in his presidency the nation has had to deal with senseless acts of gun violence, the President said it was "the fourth time we've hugged survivors. The fourth time we've consoled the families of victims.
"There have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children. Much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Originally posted 12/16/2012 04:20PM
This year, 26 families – and an innumerable count of mourning loved ones and strangers alike – will spend the holidays in the shadow of a national tragedy.
An anonymous North Carolina donor contributed 26 Christmas trees – one for each of the 20 children and six adults killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday – for a special tribute.
Originally posted 12/16/2012 10:30AM
A day after a gunman shot down 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school, Saturday Night Live pushed comedy aside to pay tribute to the lives lost.
The New York City Children's Chorus opened Saturday's show with an elegant performance of "Silent Night" (watch below). The song was a departure for the humor-driven show that typically kicks off the night with a punchline.
At the closing of the Christmas classic, the chorus turned back to tradition, shouting out, "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!"
Originally posted 12/16/2012 10:00AM
The father of the alleged shooter in the Connecticut school massacre has broken his silence, expressing condolences to the families of the victims.
"Our family is grieving along with all those who have been affected by this enormous tragedy," said Peter Lanza in a statement Saturday night. "No words can truly express how heartbroken we are. We are in a state of disbelief and trying to find whatever answers we can."
His son Adam Lanza, 20, is suspected of opening fire on the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, killing 20 children and six adults before taking his own life. Adam's mother Nancy Lanza also was killed earlier at another location.
Originally posted 12/15/2012 06:30PM
Out of the chaos and horror emerged an incredible act of selflessness and bravery by one teacher who spent her final moments trying to protect her young students from harm.
Victoria Soto, 27, a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., ushered her students into a closet, and in so doing placed her body between them and the assailant.
"She was found huddled over her children, her students, doing instinctively what she knew was the right thing," her cousin Jim Wiltsie tells ABC News.
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